Don't Go to Sleep / Bryce Moore / Book Review

Seven years ago, the Axeman broke into her family's store, attacked her parents, and left them all for dead. Gianna Crutti and her parents survived, barely, but she was plagued with dreams after, dreams of the killer...

In years since, those nightmares have faded. Until now. When Gia wakes up in the middle of the night with splattering, dark images in her mind, she knows the Axeman of New Orleans is back. And this time, with the help of her friend Enzo, she plans to stop the Axeman before he can come back to finish the job. 


Ultimately, this book was kind of "bleh." It's not very exciting, which is a shame in, you know, a crime thriller. The main character doesn't have much agency, which is a problem. It's supposed to be about her taking charge, taking down the famed Axeman. At least this book left me interested in the true crime behind it, though. 


  • Witchy NOLA: Because this book is rooted in true crime, there wasn't a choice of where to set it, but the sort of paranormal twists Moore employs here are perfectly suited to the New Orleans vibe nonetheless. Gia has insights into this axe murderer through visions and dreams. She consults a good friend--who doubles as a fortuneteller and medium--for a reading and is only given ominous warnings in return. These elements, combined with some of the other paranormal bits and bobs, might feel over-the-top in another setting, but in New Orleans, they don't. Because it's New Orleans. 
  • Intriguing: Similar to The Silent Unseen, this book uncovered an overlooked bit of history. Not only is this set in the World War 1 era, which is often neglected in favor of its younger brother, but it's also rooted in the domestic side of the era. It's set within the U.S., not on the warfront. The true crime story behind this brutal historical fiction, too, was not entirely familiar to me, and it definitely peaked my interest in this anti-Italian killer. And that's great. 
  • Pandemic Relevant: This book is embroiled in an epidemic, too, much like our contemporary age. In fact, this bout of influenza is the very one that everyone at the start of our current pandemic brought up as a somewhat contemporary reference. The slow acceptance of masks, the paranoia around other people, the rising infection rate despite precautions: all of it is abundantly familiar, even more so for any essential worker out there. Because Gia and her grocery-store-running parents can't just shut down the shop and hole up until it all subsides. They, like many others, have no choice but to keep working through it, no matter the risk. 


  • Time Troubles: The very first thing I noticed when I started reading this book was that the voice felt... off. It felt very contemporary. It didn't make a nod, even, toward its period aspect. Of course, authors want to have an engaging voice that their contemporary readers won't struggle with, but this voice has to be a balancing act for historical fiction. Because the character isn't contemporary, even if the voice is. On top of this, some of the "historical" trappings of this book were under-researched--like the presence of neon lights in New Orleans. Sure, neon lights were a thing... but not in the U.S. Not yet. It just felt not-quite-right, and that was majorly disappointing. 
  • Progressive Historic: You know something that really peeves me in historical fiction? When the book itself or the characters within it "look forward" to some contemporary state of mind. This was a problem I had with Heart of the Impaler, and it was even more of a problem here (because unlike Heart of the Impaler, this book was meant to be more than a romance fluff piece). If historical characters have contemporary morals and social goals, they need a very good reason for thinking and feeling this way. The majority did not have such modern sensibilities, because times were different. Gia was also not consistent herself in her leanings. She looks forward to more advanced vinyl records and CDs, but she's very anti-telephone. One of these is more period-consistent than the other...
  • Aimless: The biggest problem here was that Gia lacked agency. She had next to no influence on her actual plot. She never had a solid plan--or a plan at all. What role was she ultimately playing? Bait. She was bait in somebody else's plan. She herself, for all her big claims, was entirely useless and utterly pointless. And that's a major problem, especially because this book purports otherwise. 



Fans of Kendall Kulper's Murder for the Modern Girl will appreciate this new supernatural twist on history. Those who enjoyed Laura Amy Schlitz's A Drowned Maiden's Hair will appreciate the crime-mixed-with-paranormal aspect to this historical piece.  


Publisher: Sourcebooks
Date: August 2, 2022
Series: N/A
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Note: I was provided with an ARC by the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions here are my own.


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